Originally published in Leonardo, Vol. 34, No. 2 (2001), p. 165.

Eduardo Kac: Teleporting an Unkown State

Title: Eduardo Kac: Teleporting an Unkown State
Editors: Peter Tomaz Dobrila and Aleksandra Kostic
Publisher: Kibla (Maribor, Slovenia)
Date: 1998
Specifications: 88 pages, 47 b/w images

Review by Robert Pepperell

This short collection of essays reviews and documents a number of art-works
by the Brazilian-born artist Eduardo Kac (pronounced "katz" as the
variousauthors remind us). Kac is often cited, along with Stelarc and Orlan,
as an artist who transgresses the boundary between human and machine,
organic and artificial. A number of his most widely publicised works
deliberately provoke an immediate sense of apprehension which masks their
underlying poetry as, for example, with the piece "Time Capsule" (Brazil
1997). In full view of public and media, Kac inserted a digital transponder
tag, of the kind used to track animals, under his skin and registered
himself with a databank in the United States. Having concisely introduced
the contemporary techno-cultural context of Kac's work, the essay by
Arlindo Machado that describes this piece proceeds to expose the rich seams
of personal history and public rhetoric that Kac orchestrates through his
useof gallery spaces and communication technologies. The opening essay,
by Kac himself, documents a piece of work that inspires the title of
the volume: "Teleporting an Unknown State"(New Orleans, 1996).
Presented as a"biotelematic interactive installation" the aesthetic elegance of the work
powerfully metabolises the continuity between the biological and the
technological. A seed is planted in a dark room by Kac, and is illuminated
only by the light from a video projector mounted overhead. This projector
displays the light collected from volunteer participants around the world
who digitally capture local light and convey it, via the internet, to the
exhibition space. Thus, it is the combined effort of the participants andthe
global communication technologies that allows the seed to germinate and
ultimately thrive, as those who contributed could witness on a live web-cam.
On the day the exhibition ends, Kac gently uproots the 18-inch plant and
replants it next to the gallery door. This dual-language publication is well
produced and, although short, has more than its share of ideas. It may
become an essential digest, or point of reference, for those inspired by the
convergence of technology, humans and art.

Robert Pepperell has lectured and exhibited at many venues including the International Cybernetics Conference, Vienna and the London Film Festival. He is the author of The Post-Human Condition, published by Intellect (Bristol, 1997).

Back to Kac Web